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Biden team eyes expanding map to Texas, Florida despite Trump leads

Officials see ‘multiple paths’ to second term and ‘a very tough, close race’

President Joe Biden speaks to supporters and volunteers at the opening of a Wisconsin campaign office in Milwaukee on March 13.
President Joe Biden speaks to supporters and volunteers at the opening of a Wisconsin campaign office in Milwaukee on March 13. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden campaign officials said Monday they see “multiple paths” to President Joe Biden winning reelection, targeting a handful of swing states — and even trying to grab states he lost to Donald Trump in 2020.

“From day one, the Biden-Harris campaign has firmly believed this race will be won on the ground across key states that are core to our multiple pathways to 270. As we enter the general election, we have multiple clear paths to victory through a number of critical swing states,” Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden-Harris 2024 campaign manager, wrote in a memo.

Even as Trump has opened up a lead in most national and state polls, Rodriguez wrote that campaign officials are eying strategies aimed at “expanding the map in places like Florida and Texas.”

In Trump’s new home state of Florida, Trump led Biden by 6 percentage points (48 percent to 42 percent) in a St. Pete Polls survey taken March 11-13. In Texas, Trump led Biden by 9 percentage points (51 percent to 42 percent) in a poll conducted Feb. 29-March 3 by Florida Atlantic University Political Communication and Public Opinion Research Lab.

“Now, at the end of the day, we know this is going to be a very tough, close race,” a Biden-Harris 2024 campaign official told reporters on a conference call Monday. “That’s why we’re investing in multiple pathways to 270 electoral votes, including in the southeastern battleground states.”

The official stressed “early outreach” to voters and “mobilizing our diverse coalition.”

As the Biden campaign tries to grab states he lost last time, Rodriguez wrote that his top reelection staff “aren’t taking any state or any vote for granted and are building strong teams to shore up important building block states to 270 such as Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Virginia.”

But the campaign chief made clear that, in many ways, any path to a second term goes through the same battleground states that handed Biden a victory over Trump in 2020.

“At the center of those pathways are three key regions of the country: the Blue Wall states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, western battlegrounds like Nevada and Arizona, and southern states like Georgia and North Carolina,” Rodriguez added.

Biden will travel to Nevada and Arizona on Tuesday for a mix of official White House and campaign events — but raking in likely millions more in 2024 donations from supporters is a big objective for the trip.

Trump leads Biden in all seven expected swing states under RealClearPolitics’ average of recent polling — though Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania is under 1 percentage point, a narrow 46.2 percent to 45.6 percent edge. In Nevada, Trump has a 5.6 percentage point lead (46.3 percent to 40.7 percent). He also leads in Arizona by 5.2 points (47.8 percent to 42.6 percent).

On Wednesday, Biden is slated to begin the day in Phoenix with a White House event touting his domestic agenda, which as a whole remains unpopular with most voters. From there, Biden is scheduled to fly to Texas for two campaign receptions on Wednesday in Dallas. He will wrap up the trip by jetting to Houston on Thursday for one more Lone Star State campaign reception before returning to Washington.

Biden is expected to tout new jobs created under his watch in Nevada and Arizona, the campaign official told reporters Monday. Part of that message will be his support of unionized workers, the official said, adding Biden could mention Trump calling those same workers “dues suckers.”

The president will also seek to convince voters in both states that his policies would create even more jobs while Trump’s policy proposals would take them away.

Expect to see the president more often opting away from large rallies, instead holding smaller-scale events like ones last week in Wisconsin. Biden likes “being able to engage supporters, volunteers, voters, in those settings in a personal way,” the official said. “I think everyone got a handshake, everyone got a picture with the boss. … They were thrilled to see the president and they were fired up. And the president, in turn, was thrilled to see them and he was fired up.”

Yet, the upbeat call and memo came as Biden trails Trump in the remaining battleground states that analysts have predicted could decide who is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2025. Trump is up by 1 percentage point in Wisconsin, 3.5 percentage points in Michigan, 5.5 points in North Carolina and 5.7 points in Georgia, according to RealClearPolitics’ tabulations.

Trump has looked to shore up his leads in many of those places, recently holding campaign events in Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The Biden campaign official said Trump’s campaign is “bleeding money in legal bills” as the former president fights criminal charges in New York, Florida and Georgia.

Another part of the campaign’s strategy is to court anti-Trump Republican and independent voters, with the official saying campaign officials believe many GOP primary voters who picked former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley over Trump in recent months could vote for Biden in November.

“We think about persuading these voters to come and join us in the first place, as opposed to simply talking to them at the very end,” the campaign official said. “We take it very seriously and want to have a long relationship of trust to earn votes.”

Trump has criticized GOP donors and voters who supported Haley before she suspended her campaign for the nomination, saying he does not want them under his 2024 tent. But in other moments, Trump has courted Haley voters.

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